In this crazy busy world, it’s important to find ways of organising your thoughts, pausing to reflect on your day/week and what you’ve achieved, and to give meaning to your experiences. In the veterinary profession, it can quite often be ‘go go go’, running at 100 miles an hour, and between work and home life it can leave little time to decompress.
Many people thrive on the adrenaline of the day, but it can be a slippery slope if not balanced out with some quality downtime. Sometimes you just have to slow down to go faster.
Here are 5 benefits you’ll get from keeping a journal:
1. A Mindful Moment
Journalling offers an opportunity to take a break from daily stressors and just be in the present moment. For some, journalling is even a form of meditation. It increases awareness of self, by asking yourself about yourself, and examining what is in your head and in your heart.
2. Organise Your Thoughts
Getting your thoughts down onto paper loosens the grip of the energy some of your thoughts hold. For those times when you feel particularly overwhelmed by life, you can free write which means getting out all of your thoughts onto paper (however silly or minor you think they are) and continuing until there’s literally nothing left in your head to write about. Afterwards, you can use what you’ve written to find a solution to your overwhelm by identifying what you can and cannot control. Out of the things you can control, ask yourself ‘what do I want to happen instead?’ and ‘what is the first step to take to make this happen?’ Then you can determine, what the ONE thing is that you can do that will have the BIGGEST impact, the difference that will make the difference, so that you can take action on that.
3. Exploration, Learning and Reflection
Learning comes from doing, but also from thinking about what we do. It's easy to go through day to day life without spending too much time processing our experiences. Reflection gives meaning to your experience and 'meaning making' is crucial to your ongoing growth.
Journalling is also a great way of recording your progress and looking back on just how far you’ve come.
It provides a way of getting to know yourself better and become more in tune with what your real needs and desires are. Not what other people think you should want, but what YOU want.
4. Solution Focused Thinking
Problem solving in your head is often tricky if your mind is busy with thoughts. The mind is easily distracted, and you can very quickly go from ‘what do I want from life?’ to ‘I wonder what I should have for dinner tonight?' If you are journalling to solve a problem, writing it down will help you gain clarity on what’s bothering you, and examine the underlying cause behind the problem too. The real problem might not be what you immediately think it is and journalling gives you the opportunity to go deeper and look at the problem from different angles and perspectives. You can then brainstorm solutions, without judgement and in your own time. It will really get your creative brain cells flowing.
Writing down your thoughts and feelings is a way of getting to the heart of the matter. It makes feelings more real by writing them down. It’s a way of expressing your feelings and confronting difficult emotions, which allows the healing process to begin. It’s an incredibly healthy outlet and positive coping mechanism for helping yourself face overwhelming emotions.
The Rules of Journalling
There are no rules!
You don’t have to be anyone other than who you are.
There’s nobody to impress between the pages.
You can write without holding back and you can give yourself permission to tell yourself the whole truth.
You don’t have to use fancy words; you use words that are comfortable and right for you.
Your journal can be on lined paper or blank, it can be completely bare or you can buy a journal that is covered with inspiring quotes. You can hand-write your journal, or you can type into your phone, or your computer.
You don’t have to write a certain amount of words or write in your journal at a specific time of day.
Spelling and grammatical errors are allowed, and your handwriting can be as messy as you want it to be.
You might be surprised by what comes out when you don’t put a filter on your thoughts or follow any rules.
"Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart". William Wordsworth